Stuck in the middle with the Sandwich Generation

It’s estimated that 23% of the UK population will be aged 65 or over by 2035, which means as a society we need to continue to focus on the health and happiness of Britain’s pensioners.

However, at the same time, the pressures on the generation below – the children of Britain’s oldest citizens – are only likely to increase further.

More and more people are becoming a part of this new phenomenon, known as The Sandwich Generation, where these people have to care for both their children and parents at the same time.

Last month, the Aviva Health Check UK Report showed that the pressures on this generation who are increasingly caring for elderly parents as well as their children, are causing the highest rates of stress and lowest rates of good health across all ages.

While the sandwich generation is clearly suffering under the weight of money concerns, they are unlikely to tell anyone about it. Three quarters of 55-64 year olds say they keep their problems to themselves and 71% of 45-54 year olds say the same. You can find more about the report here.

If you’ve ever flown in a plane then you’ll be familiar with the phrase, put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others with theirs, and this applies to more situations than just flying. Life in the middle can be expensive and exhausting, which can make it hard to care for others if you’re struggling for air yourself.

Seeking advice and support isn’t something carers in the Sandwich Generation commonly do and this can be due to a range of factors, including:

• Being too busy with caring and other responsibilities to find the time to seek advice and support;
• Not knowing where to look for support;
• Wanting to take care of their family themselves, without outside help;
• Not feeling as though they needed any information or support.

However, information, advice and support can be sought by sandwich carers in a range of ways, which include turning to friends and family members but also by using charities and government services.

So where can carers in the Sandwich Generation get help?

Which? Elderly Care is a free-to-use website offering practical information and advice about arranging care for relatives. People can answer a short questionnaire to access information that is relevant to their situation and then search by postcode for local services.

This website has information on how to choose the type of care that would best suit your relative, what options are available and different ways to organise finance. It also features real life stories and will direct you to specialist sources of advice, explaining what each source can offer.